Infrared NASA satellite imagery confirmed newborn Tropical Storm Sonca

Sep 15, 2011
This infrared image of Tropical Storm Sonca was captured on Sept. 14 at 10:41 p.m. EDT. The purple area around the center of circulation indicates the coldest, highest cloud heights, where the heaviest rain was occurring. Satellite data also shows Sonca has taken on the signature "comma" shape of a tropical storm. Credit: NASA JPL, Ed Olsen

Infrared satellite imagery from NASA's Aqua satellite yesterday showed powerful convection building in the low pressure area known as System 94W and provided forecasters with an inside look that the low was strengthening. System 94W did intensify and became Tropical Storm Sonca today.

Infrared imagery is gathered by the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument that flies on NASA's Aqua satellite. It provides valuable information to forecast organizations such as the Joint Typhoon Warning Center and National Hurricane Center about cloud temperatures and heights and sea-surface temperatures.

Infrared data provides valuable clues about how a tropical cyclone is going to behave. High, with temperatures colder than -63 Fahrenheit (-52 Celsius) within a tropical cyclone tell meteorologists that convection (rising air that forms thunderstorms that power a tropical cyclone) is strong, and further strengthening of the entire tropical cyclone is likely. When NASA satellites show that cloud temperatures are warming, it means there is less strength or uplift in the air to help form powerful thunderstorms.

When NASA's Aqua satellite flew over Tropical Storm Sonca on Sept. 14 at 10:41 p.m. EDT the AIRS instrument gathered that infrared temperature data about the thunderstorms that make up the storm. AIRS showed a large area around the center of circulation where the coldest, highest cloud heights, where the heaviest rain was occurring. Satellite data also showed Sonca has taken on the signature "comma" shape of a tropical storm.

Tropical Storm Sonca's are near 35 knots (40 mph) so it's just over the threshold of being a tropical storm. The storm is over 120 miles in diameter with tropical storm-force wind gusts out 60 miles from the center. Sonca is approximately 760 nautical miles east of the island of Iwo To, Japan and has tracked north-northwestward at 9 knots (10 mph).

Forecasters at the Joint are monitoring the progress of Sonca and using the infrared data that AIRS provides in addition data from other NASA satellites. Sonca is currently forecast to pass to the northeast of Chichi Jima, Japan over the weekend and bring gusty winds, heavy surf and rainfall to the island.

Explore further: Ice in Arctic seas shrinks to sixth-lowest recorded

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tropical Storm Robyn nested away from land

Apr 05, 2010

Tropical Storm "Robyn" didn't have to fly south for the northern hemisphere winter, like the birds (Robins), it formed in the southern hemisphere this past weekend in the Southern Indian Ocean. Infrared satellite ...

Tropical Storm Oli kicking up waves in south Pacific

Feb 02, 2010

Tropical Storm Oli is headed between the islands of Bora Bora and Raratonga in the South Pacific, while maintaining its intensity as a tropical storm. Infrared satellite data from NASA's Aqua satellite reveals ...

NASA eyes low in eastern Pacific for tropical development

May 27, 2010

The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder instrument onboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured an infrared image of a low pressure area called "90E" in the Eastern Pacific that forecasters are watching for tropical development. ...

Recommended for you

Study links changing winds to warming in Pacific

6 hours ago

A new study released Monday found that warming temperatures in Pacific Ocean waters off the coast of North America over the past century closely followed natural changes in the wind, not increases in greenhouse ...

NASA image: Wildfires in Khabarovsk Krai, Russia

6 hours ago

Most of the fires captured in this image burn in Khabarovsk Krai, a territory occupying the coastline of the Sea of Okhotsk. Dozens of red hotspots, accompanied by plumes of smoke mark active fires. The smoke, ...

NASA sees Tropical Depression Polo winding down

9 hours ago

Infrared satellite imagery from NASA's Aqua satellite showed only a swirl of low-level clouds some deep clouds around Polo's weakening center on Sept. 22 as the storm weakened to a depression.

User comments : 0